NPHC organizations emphasize year-round reflection

Amy Hamblin and Stephanie Chen

For members of the historically black National Pan-Hellenic Council, black history is written each day and shouldn’t be celebrated only during Black History Month.

“Black history is every day of the year,” said George Spencer, president of NPHC. “We do so many programs that are focused on black culture.”

The largest fraternity in the council, Alpha Phi Alpha, has sponsored a candlelight vigil in memory of former member Martin Luther King, Jr. for the past 25 years. Beyond this event in January, NPHC chapters include black history programming throughout the year.

This Saturday Alpha Phi Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta are cosponsoring “Fire and Ice,” a party and step show that they expect will draw about 300 to 600 people, Spencer said. Open to all students, the event will take place in the Louis Room at Norris University Center as one of the events the chapters host every week or two.

“Our Greek chapters aren’t necessarily sponsoring events revolving around Black History Month because we are involved in other (For Members Only) satellites,” said Spencer, vice coordinator of programming for FMO, the black student alliance that has planned events to celebrate Black History Month. “I don’t think there’s a need for over-programming.”

Weinberg senior Tracy Carson, second vice president for historically black sorority Delta Sigma Theta, also doubles as president for FMO.

With only 37 students as members, NPHC is notably smaller than the Interfraternity Council or Panhellenic Association because most chapters haven’t had intake said Spencer. Six of the “Divine Nine” NPHC chapters are present on campus, ranging in size from two to 11 members. As a result the chapters do not have on campus houses.

Spencer, a Communication senior, said NPHC never has expected to be as large as other Greek councils because it concentrates on the black community — only 6 percent of NU’s student body. Although all current members are black, Spencer said this has not always been true — NPHC chapters welcome students of all nationalities to join.

Despite the recent flurry of rush and pledge events for IFC and Panhel, Spencer said NPHC’s offerings haven’t been overshadowed.

“I don’t feel as if we are in competition with the other Greek organizations,” Spencer said. He added that NPHC recruits a different crowd that believes more in an individual chapter’s mission and willingly makes the lifetime commitment.

Also, dues for NPHC chapters are about one-sixth the cost of those for IFC and Panhel.

Crystal Ellis, vice president of NPHC, said their chapters strive to develop community through political involvement, economic development and global awareness.

“NPHC was founded for cohesiveness among the members of the black community,” said Ellis, an Education senior. Although all Greek houses perform community service, Ellis said NPHC organizations differentiate themselves because almost all of their social activities incorporate an element of service.

Proceeds from “Fire and Ice” will go toward future community service projects, said Weinberg senior Jason Wright, Alpha Phi Alpha president. His chapter sponsors a different service project every day of the week, he said.

Several chapters host formals where they award scholarships to high school students and NU freshmen.

“It’s all about bettering the community of which they are a part,” said Kyle Pendleton, associate director of fraternity and sorority life. “Versus the social aspect of other organizations.”